After a horrifying mountain climbing accident, Elsa is lucky to be alive. But she's in a coma. Unknown to her doctors, friends and family, Elsa can hear what is going on around her, but cannot communicate.
A young man named Thibault is in the same hospital to visit his brother, who has also been in an accident. But, the circumstances are quite different and Thibault cannot bring himself to enter his brother's room. Instead he ducks into Elsa's room. Discovering she is in a coma from her chart, he happily sits down in the visitor's chair......and begins to talk. This is the first time, but it won't be the last. He finds himself drawn to Elsa, despite her being in a coma. And Elsa? She is just as drawn to Thibault - and determined to let Thibault know.
This isn't a new premise for a novel (or a story either - I thought of Sleeping Beauty as I started reading), but I enjoyed Avit's take on it. The reader is privy to the details of both Elsa's and Thibault's lives.
Who knows if those in comas can hear what is happening around them? (And I think they can) Imagine the frustration and fear they must feel. Avit does a good job portraying what such a patient might feel with Elsa's thoughts, hopes and memories. And fears as well - she can hear what her doctors and family are discussing.
I quite liked Thibault. His open, unhindered, unscripted monologues revealed much about his life, his thoughts and his character. But, I thought the parallel storyline about his brother should have affected me more. (And I felt bad about that as it too has some serious overtones.) I'm not sure if it was 'lost in translation', but I didn't feel the emotion the situation warranted.
The pragmatic in me had to ignore Thibault's crossing of lines with a stranger (some of his behaviour in the hospital going ignored by staff is a bit of stretch) and just go with the fairy tale, hoping that Elsa can wake up and let Thibault know she has heard every word he's spoken.
I'm Still Here is a quick little romantic read, with a fairy tale feel. Read an excerpt of I'm Still Here.
"Clélie Avit was born and raised in the Auvergne region of France. She works as a physics and chemistry teacher, while also teaching dance. Avit received the Prix Nouveau Talent for I'm Still Here (Je Suis La), her first novel."
And if you think you'd enjoy I'm Still Here, enter to win one of two copies I have to giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends September 17/16.